Nevada 4-H welcomes a new generation of ambassadors
By Andrew Church
The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s 4-H program supports a diverse range of programs, from beef breeding to photography. One group, however, stretches across all those programs: the Nevada State Ambassadors.
The ambassador team consists of 32 4-H representatives from across Nevada, representing the interests of each county and each program. Membership includes eight ambassadors from the Southern Area; eight from the Western Area; eight from the Central-Northeast Area; four from 4-H Military Youth program and four from after the Afterschool Youth program.
“The purpose of the ambassador program is to have representation from across the state,” said Steve Schafer, coordinator for 4-H youth development and events. “The ambassadors build, market and promote leadership for the Nevada 4-H program.”
The first activity the newly appointed ambassadors attend is the Nevada State Ambassadors Leadership Conference, held Oct. 31 to Nov. 1 at the 4-H State Camp at Lake Tahoe. According to Jessica Poole, 21, a former state ambassador from Carson City, the conference is an opportunity for ambassadors to meet one another and learn life skills.
Poole felt that the skills she gained from the leadership conference were helpful in fulfilling her role as a state ambassador.
“I was more confident in giving presentations and speaking in front of people I did not know or who were influential,” Poole said. “I was able to achieve tasks on my own such as fundraising or phone calling people.”
Each ambassador holds office for two years, leading and organizing a wide variety of 4-H functions on both the state and county level. Poole served as a state ambassador for five years.
“We were present at all of the events in order to be leaders, give speeches or just help set the event up,” Poole said.
Ambassadors also attend the National 4-H Conference, scheduled for Mar. 20-25 of 2010 at the National 4-H Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
“Youth discuss the pros and cons of current 4-H programs and talk about how to improve these programs," Poole said. "We also tour Capitol Hill to become educated about the United States’ capitol.”
Ambassadors also gain valuable skills that contribute toward future careers. Poole, a UNR junior studying animal science, agrees the skills acquired during the ambassador program have continued to aid her.
“The skills have helped me at work, with my schooling, with my family and in situations that I deem are not fun to deal with,” Poole said. “It also has prepared me for interviews in the work world and communication with people via phone call, e-mail and face-to-face. Being an ambassador helped open my eyes by allowing me to travel, meet new people and learn new things, especially about 4-H.”
Poole plans on passing those skills to the next generation.
"I want to become a specialized Parelli horse trainer. I would like to open up a facility for youth and teach them about life skills by using wild horses," she said. "My plan is to take wild horses and teach the youth how to be good horsemen. This in turn will teach the youth life skills."
As new ambassadors undergo the leadership process, Poole offers her advice to the incoming representatives.
“Continue to be open-minded and learn various things,” Poole said. “Remember to have goals and dreams to help you strive for what you truly want.”
Applicants to the ambassador program must submit an application and undergo an interview process to be selected as a qualified candidate. More information regarding the 4-H State Ambassadors can be found at www.unce.unr.edu/4H/ or by contacting the Nevada State 4-H Program Office at 775-784-6207.